A few weeks ago, Josh Miller gave me a copy of his new documentary “Made in the USA: The 30 Day Journey” to watch and review. Josh has been a vocal advocate in the Made in America Movement and a great supporter of my blog. I was, of course, intrigued to watch about his journey and see how it all panned out. Beyond that, though, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I must say that I underestimated what I was about to watch.
Here’s the thing: you make a movie about spending 30 days traveling across the country and using only American-made products, I think it’s going to be straight forward. I’m going to learn about all these great products and companies that I didn’t know about; it’s going to be informative. I think, hey, this guy’s going to show me how it’s done. And then you see that it’s not so easy and there are some stumbling points. How do you do simple things like brush your teeth or eat or take a shower or any of that normal stuff when a lot of things are just not made in the States anymore? You know, it’s sometimes hard even for the guy making a movie about stuff made in the USA. It makes me realize just how complicated and intricate American manufacturing and American consumerism really is.
In fact, I did learn a thing or two about American products. Josh has some great interviews with companies across the U.S. spanning lots of different industries: All American Clothing Co., Art Flo, Bullet Blues Custom Apparel, k’NEX, NOLA Brewery, Sun & Earth, and Three Dots. Josh’s positive spin on what is being manufactured in the U.S. now and what is doing well was refreshing. It’s great to learn directly from business owners the reasons that they have decided to stay an American-made company and why offshoring isn’t appealing to them. Again and again, I’m finding it nice to hear from people that it is possible to produce a US-made product, to do it well, and to make a profit.
The documentary also touches on the impact that politics and historical events have had on U.S. manufacturing, both on a national level and well as on Small-Town USA. In areas where manufacturing was a key source of employment, for example, a company’s decision to move elsewhere affects the local residents even more profoundly. Yet again, however, Josh turns the conversation into a positive one. The movie highlights ways in which longtime running companies are adapting to survive in this economy (by teaming up with new businesses), how the U.S. can still make a comeback (with entrepreneurship), and how there are even current domestic industries that are growing (beer!). It gives me hope.
Are there any things that surprised you on or after your journey?
During the journey I was surprised how much of our lives literally are ruled by electronics day in and day out. Also, it baffles me that we don’t make any cell phone or laptops here in America. Since electronics seem to be the future, you would think America would put in place policies that would encourage manufacturing in the electronics arena. After the journey I was shocked to see how big our fan base has grown and continues to grow. I knew then I must continue pushing forward and continue to raise awareness. Many Americans out there are out of work, and we must fight to bring jobs back to our shores. I definitely love all of the fans we have, we couldn’t do it without them.
What are a couple of your favorite USA-made finds?
I love Bullet Blue Jeans and really all of the clothing companies I came across are very comfortable clothing. Meeting with the All American Clothing Co. was a great experience because they make you feel like family when you visit them, and it had nothing to do with me making a film. That is just a great company who cares about the consumers. I agree that clothing made here can sometimes be more expensive, but that is not always the case. When you compare common shopping locations such as American Eagle and stores like that, many American made brands can easily compete with those prices. Outside of products, my meal in New Orleans at The Company Burger was heaven for me. I had some local beer and local beef. The food there was awesome and they pride themselves in American-made appliances and buying local. The Company Burger was a great experience. Also, going to K’NEX toys made me feel like a kid again! :)
Any things that you’ve still been trying to find American-made?
I think there are some opportunities in the American-made community for sportswear, haven’t heard of too many companies making sportswear. I’m a very active individual so if you’re a sportswear company please let me know. I think the “Made in America” community has done such a great job at making folks aware of products, etc. I’m proud of how this movement has evolved and people respond to each others inquiries on my fan page when looking for products. Great fans/supporters!
What’s on your agenda now that the movie is finished and out?
I will continue to promote this movement and the film. I’ll be headed out to Hollywood soon to work on some new TV show ideas and some potential feature films. This first film of mine was a passion project inspired by tragedy so it will always remain close to my heart and so will the great fans and supporters. I will continue to remain active in the “Made in America” community. I love film and I’m going to keep doing that as long as I can and I look forward to several projects I have lined up.
What do you think is necessary for the next step in the Made in America Movement?
The next step in the “Made in America” movement is to create a plan to prosperity. I’m a firm believer that talking only goes so far, we’ve got the world watching, it is time we spring into action and let Congress and President Obama know that America wants to go back to work and we want a diverse economy which includes a strong manufacturing base. That is another development that will come soon, I’m in early talks with several folks to put together a detailed plan to send to Washington D.C., we’ll find out if Washington is listening to us soon enough. More updates will come forth in the coming months. I look forward to listening to the great minds of American Made businesses and the workers that make this movement possible. The American Dream is still alive, we must seize it!